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Sec. Cit. Worthy Menenius Agrippa; one that hath always loved the people.
First Cit. He's one honest enough: would all the rest were so!
Enter MENENIUS AGRIPPA. Men. What work's, my countrymen, in hand? where go
you With bats and clubs? the matter? speak, I pray you.
First Cit. Our business is not unknown to the senate; they have had inkling, this fortnight, what we intend to do, which now we'll show 'em in deeds. They say poor suitors have strong breaths: they shall know we have strong arms too. Men. Why, masters, my good friends, mine honest neigh
you undo yourselves?
First Cit. We cannot, sir, we are undone already.
Men. I tell you, friends, most charitable care
Have the patricians of you. For your wants,
Your suffering in this dearth, you may as well
Strike at the heaven with your staves as lift them
Against the Roman state; whose course will on
The way it takes, cracking ten thousand curbs
Of more strong link asunder than can ever
Appear in your,impediment: for the dearth,
The gods, not the patricians, make it; and
Your knees to them, not arms, must help. Alack,
You are transported by calamity
Thither where more attends you; and you slander
The helms o' the state, who care for you like fathers,
When you curse them as enemies.
First Cit. Care for us! True, indeed! They ne'er cared for us yet: suffer us to famish, and their store-houses crammed with grain; make edicts for usury, to support usurers; repeal daily any wholesome act established against the rich; and provide more piercing statutes daily, to chain up and restrain the poor. If the wars eat us not up, they will; and there's all the love they bear us.
Men. Either you must
Confess yourselves wondrous malicious,
Or be accus'd of folly. I shall tell you
A pretty tale: it may be you have heard it;
But, since it serves my purpose, I will venture
To stale 't a little more.
First Cit. Well, I'll hear it, sir: yet you must not think to fob-off our disgrace with a tale: but, an 't please you, deliver.
Men. There was a time when all the body's members
Rebell'd against the belly; thus accus'd it:
That only like a gulf it did remain
l'the midst o' the body, idle and unactive,
Still cupboarding the viand, never bearing
Like labour with the rest; where th' other instrumeuts
Did see and hear, devise, instruct, walk, feel,
And, mutually participate, did minister
Unto the appetite and affection common
Of the whole body. The belly answer'd,
What answer made the belly?
Men. Sir, I shall tell you. With a kind of smile,
Which ne'er came from the lungs, but even thus
For, look you, I may make the belly smile
As well as speak it tauntingly replied
To the discontented members, the mutinous parts
That envied his receipt; even so most fitly
As you malign our senators for that
They are not such as you.
Your belly's answer? What!
The kingly-crowned head, the vigilant eye,
The counsellor heart, the arm our soldier,
Our steed the leg, the tongue our trumpeter,
With other muniments and petty helps
In this our fabric, if that they -
'Fore me, this fellow speaks! · what then? what then?
First Cit. Should by the cormorant belly be restrain'd,
Who is the sink o' the body,
Well, what then?
First Cit. The former agents, if they did complain,
What could the belly answer?
I will tell you;
If you'll bestow a small of what you've little
Patience awhile, you'll hear the belly's answer.
First Cit. Ye're long about it.
Note me this, good friend;
Your most grave belly was deliberate,
Not rash like his accusers, and thus answer'd:
“True is it, my incorporate friends," quoth he,
“That I receive the general food at first,
Which you do live upon; and fit it is,
Because I am the store-house and the shop
Of the whole body: but, if you do remember,
I send it through the rivers of your blood,
Even to the court, the heart, to the seat o' the brain;
And, through the cranks and offices of man,
The strongest nerves and small inferior veins
From me receive that natural competency
Whereby they live: and though that all at once,
You, my good friends," this says the belly, mark me,
First Cit. Ay, sir; well, well.
“Though all at once can not
See what I do deliver out to each,
Yet I can make my audit up, that all
From me do back receive the flour of all,
And leave me but the bran.” — What say you to't?
First Cit. It was an answer: how apply you this?
Men. The senators of Rome are this good belly,
And you the mutinous members: for, examine
Their counsels and their cares; digest things rightly
Touching the weal o' the common; you shall find,
No public benefit which you receive
But it proceeds or comes from them to you,
And no way from yourselves. What do you think,
You, the great toe of this assembly?
First Cit. I the great toe! why the great toe?
Men. For that, being one o' the lowest, basest, poorest,
Of this most wise rebellion, thou go'st foremost:
Thou rascal, that art worst in blood to run,
Lead'st first to win some vantage.
But make you ready your stiff bats and clubs:
Rome and her rats are at the point of battle;
The one side must have bale.
Enter Caius MARCIUS.
Hail, noble Marcius!
Mar. Thanks.-What's the matter, you dissentious rogues,
That, rubbing the poor itch of your opinion,
Make yourselves scabs?
We have ever your good word.
Mar. He that will give good words to ye will flatter
Beneath abhorring. What would you have, you curs,
That like nor peace nor war? the one affrights you,
The other makes you proud. He that trusts to you,
Where he should find you lions, finds you hares;
Where foxes, geese: you are no surer,
Than is the coal of fire upon the ice,
Or hailstone in the sun. Your virtue is,
To make him worthy whose offence subdues him,
And curse that justice did it. Who deserves greatness
hate; and your
A sick man's appetite, who desires most that
Which would increase his evil. He that depends
Upon your favours swims with fins of lead,
And hews down oaks with rushes. Hang ye! Trust ye!
With every minute you do change a mind;
And call him uoble that was now your hate,
Him vile that was your garland. What's the matter,
That in these several places of the city
You cry against the noble senate, who,
Under the gods, keep you in awe, which else
Would feed on one another? What's their seeking?
Men. For corn at their own rates; whereof, they say,
The city is well stor'd.
Hang 'em! They say!
They'll sit by the fire, and presume to know
What's done i' the Capitol; who's like to rise,
Who thrives, and who declines; side factions, and give out
Conjectural marriages; making parties strong,
And feebling such as stand not in their liking
Below their cobbled shoes. They say there's grain enough!
Would the nobility lay aside their ruth,
And let me use my sword, I'd make a quarry
With thousands of these quarter'd slaves, as high
As I could pick my lance.
Men. Nay, these are almost thoroughly persuaded;
For though abundantly they lack discretion,
Yet are they passing cowardly. But, I beseech you,
What says the other troop?
They are dissolv'd: hang 'em!
They said they were an-hungry; sigh'd forth proverbs,
That hunger broke stone walls, that dogs must eat,
That meat was made for mouths, that the gods sent not
Corn for the rich men only: with these shreds
They vented their complainings; which being answer'd,
And a petition granted them, a strange one
To break the heart of generosity,
And make bold power look pale – they threw their caps
As they would hang them on the horns o' the moon,
Shouting their emulation.
What is granted them?
Mar. Five tribunes to defend their vulgar wisdoms,
Of their own choice: one's Junius Brutus,
Sicinius Velutus, and I know not ~ 'Sdeath!
The rabble should have first unroofd the city,
Ere so prevail'd with me: it will in time